I have spent the last few years learning as much as I can about different educational philosophies with a real focus on a few that I was drawn to. They are Waldorf, Montessori, Unschooling, and Unit based learning. I personally felt these forms of education had areas they were strong in and areas they were weak in. Seeing I wanted my children to have a very well rounded education I felt it was best to follow my heart and my own intuition on what method or methods I should use. I have taken the time to try them all and see were their strong points are to me.
First I will talk about Waldorf Education created by Rudolf Steiner. Rudolf Steiner
developed on an extremely detailed curriculum in which subject matter is designed to complement and harmonize with the growing state of the child’s inner consciousness. Thus the child is taught in ways he can deeply connect with, such as using fairy tales as the springboard for early language arts work — or studying a science unit comparing people and animals at an important developmental juncture at age nine. The teacher brings in stories, poems, songs, and a sense of lively imagination and wonder to enliven curriculum topics. Written work is almost always approached with
colorful drawings and artistic, often multicolored,writing. There is an artistic thrust to almost every lesson in all curricular areas — even math and science. Personally once I used Waldorf educational material I felt the math was extremely weak. On the other hand I was very drawn to the very artistic creative approach to learning the lessons. I also enjoyed that I had a major role in helping my children learn with this method.
Montessori created By Marie Montessori is very much different. Far from Steiner’s notion that the inspired teacher should present special lessons to the children, Montessori’s radical idea was that the teacher should take a back row seat: “Education should no longer be mostly the imparting of knowledge, but must take a new path, seeking the release of human potentialities”. Through the use of hands on learning materials with clear concepts in math I seen the real benefit of this learning method. Yet I felt it was very lacking in the areas of story telling, arts, and even spirituality. I was not attracted to me the parent/ learning guide having such a non involving role, yet I seen the benefit in having some area of learning where the child was the lead and could gain a strong confidence in themselves and their own abilities to learn on their own. That idea just happens to be very unschooling and something I do agree with on a certain level.
That brings me to the area of unschooling that I do agree with and try to impalement in our learning journey. The freedom for the child to follow their own interest and learn from their own creator inspired gifts. I believe every person is born with special gifts and purpose in life. I think unschooling is wonderful in the area of allow the children time and space to really strength this gifts and interest. I think it is highly important to allow time for this in my child's life.
Now unit studies this really isn't a philosophy but is a great way to cover topics of interest. It is so well rounded you can cover just about every subject area using one unit study. For new homeschoolers this was a life blessing.
This blend of philosophies is what I use and feel is best for my children. Maybe that’s what
education should be for children: helping them learn about the world around them through touching their inner, subjective beings, as well as leading them to interact with a rich environment. In other words, maybe what children really need is a creative, nurturing, enlivening blend of Waldorf and Montessori.